I still don’t want to read your sponsored posts.

Let’s say you have a friend and she invites you over for drinks and dinner. When you get to her house, your friend announces that, before drinking and eating can commence, she would like to take a few minutes to talk to you about, say, her religion, or the Amway products she sells.

You’re probably annoyed. You don’t enjoy being invited to someone’s house for fun only to have to suffer through hearing about something that doesn’t interest you. Right? That would be my response, for sure. I’d be annoyed and offended. I probably wouldn’t hang out with this person again because I don’t have time for people who want to talk at me in an effort to promote something I don’t care about.

I feel the same way about sponsored content on blogs and on Twitter. (I’m seeing more and more of it on Twitter, with posts hashtagged #ad showing up in my stream every day.) (And now it’s on Pinterest, too! I just had to unfollow an entire board that was sponsored by Clorox. WTF is this shit?) As a blogger, you’ve invited me into your world and I think it’s going to be cool but then you bore me with sponsored content, giveaways, or product reviews. I scroll through this crap waiting to get to the fun part, but when I do, I’m not all that excited to be there any more. You’ve bored me, and you’ve made me feel like your desire to make money overrides my desire to read interesting content. (My strongly held belief is that sponsored content can never be interesting.)

Here’s the other thing. I see commercials on tv (although I only watch commercials during live sporting events — I record everything else and fast forward through the commercials). I see ads in magazines and hear them on the radio. I see them on buses and billboards and on the walls of the baseball stadium. I experience advertising pretty much everywhere I go.

I like blogs that are a respite from the constant barrage of “brands,” as I guess we’re calling companies and corporations now, trying to sell me shit. I like blogs that are real, that are written by someone who blogs just because he or she likes to write. These blogs are different from the ones whose authors are trying to make a buck. They’re authentic and interesting (and, more often than not, very small).

I don’t begrudge you your “right” to make a living or supplement your income by blogging. But I don’t have to read it. I don’t have to participate in the endless cycle of people trying to make money by advertising and promoting stuff. Honestly, I find it pretty gross that so many of our online interactions with each other are peppered with crap content designed to make money for someone. So much of what people are putting out on the internet contains the message:

Hey you! Your life would be better and more awesome if you just bought this thing!

Well no, it wouldn’t. My life has gotten better since I’ve stopped buying so many things, since I’ve realized that true happiness comes from (among other things) rejecting the constant push to buy more and have more.

It all makes me nostalgic for the old days of LiveJournal, where people blogged just because they wanted to blog. Now we have bloggers who say shit like, “Sponsored content on my blog makes writing here possible!” No. You know what makes writing on your blog possible? Sitting your ass down and writing on your blog. It’s entirely possible to do even if you don’t make money doing it.

If I can sound like an old hippie for a minute (if I didn’t already), I’m worried about the ridiculous consumerist, materialist culture in which we are living. I think it’ll be pretty cool when more people get sick of it and reject it. Hey you! Your life would be better and more awesome if you stopped listening to people who want to sell you shit you don’t need!

Old

Sometimes I see something and I have a strong, immediate, negative reaction. Take this picture of Sky Ferreira from Terry Richardson’s Tumblr. Sky Ferreira

So I’m scrolling through Tumblr, which for me is mostly pictures of tattoos and animals with or without ALLCAPS and people who live in sheds in the woods and it used to be one of those simplicity blogs that ends up being thinly veiled consumerist references to shit you should buy until I unsubscribed when she made the wrong its/it’s determination and mentioned God (not that there’s anything wrong with God if that’s what you’re into but I don’t want to hear about it and when you mention it in your blog I recognize that we are on very different wavelengths), and I saw this and was all what is this shit some reject from a Don’t Do Meth campaign from the Ad Council, which is responsible for the most horrifying ads of all time. (Holy shit have you seen that Feed the Pig thing? I admit to having a perhaps slightly unreasonable fear of people dressed up as animals but that is goddamn terrifying.)

I almost tweeted something making fun of Sky Ferreira, whoever she is, but then I realized doing so is the internet equivalent of get-off-my-lawning neighborhood children. Have you ever done that? I had this friend in college who wore a top hat all the time (of course I did) and one time we actually sat on our front porch and yelled at the kids to get off our lawn and at the time, because we were like 20, it was hilarious (not really). But now that I’m actually an age where I could be that lady yelling at kids it’s not even remotely funny.

The thing with getting older is that eventually you realize that you don’t have the time, interest, or inclination to give a shit about a good part of what goes on in popular culture, and you’re secure enough with yourself and your identity to not give a shit when situations arise where you have no idea what the fuck people are talking about. And that’s cool. Awesome, even. But it’s never good to be the old fart on the internet talking about kids these days or proudly proclaiming your ignorance of vast swathes of what’s going on in the world. I mean really, there are things that are popular in our society I know nothing about and am in fact proud to know nothing about, but the thing is, that sort of willful ignorance is absolutely never interesting to other people.

Anyway, I think the proper response here is to figure out what about Sky Ferreira bothers me so much and see what I can learn from her. One thing I figured out a long time ago is that sometimes, the people who provoke the strongest negative reactions in us have the most to teach us, and often we end up liking them once we get past whatever it is that bothers us.  So whenever I encounter a negative reaction in the wild I want to figure out what it’s up to.

Snuggles & The End of the World

SnugglesSnuggles

When it’s cold, everybody snuggles, even cats who hate each other. I’m testing out some of the fancy new Flickr filters because I deleted my Instagram account yesterday. I know, I know, nobody wants to use shitty pictures of my cats to sell their shitty products and I have nothing to worry about and every social media outlet is free to exploit its users and there’s nothing more tiresome than people on Twitter complaining about Instagram, except maybe for the people on Twitter complaining about the people on Twitter complaining about Instagram and the people on every website that has ever posted anything about Instagram complaining about hipsters, but it’s the principle of the thing. Even if a social media platform provides a place for me to post my content for free, they don’t get to disrespectfully profit from my original (albeit shitty) content, not that they’re profiting from my content in particular, but still. This is why I post pretty much everything here, on my own website (the only exceptions are Twitter and Flickr) (I grudgingly use Facebook but don’t post original content there because what’s the point). I’m not in the business of making money on the internet, and I’m especially not in the business of making money on the internet for other people.

The other thing to keep in mind during Instagramgate is that yes, people are capable of being passionate about multiple issues, some important and some less so, at the same time, unless they’re really dumb, and if they’re dumb, it’s best not to care about what they’re passionate about anyway. Just because you’re mad about Instagram doesn’t mean you’re not also and quite possibly more mad about gun violence and the senseless murder of innocent children.

In other news, as an adult, I’m not all crazy about my birthday. I mean, I like my birthday, but I don’t make a big deal out of it because I don’t really care to make a big deal out of it especially because, well, I’m an adult and my birthday is 4 days before Christmas when people are all doing stuff and our society is kind of going to shit right now and, anyway, my natural inclination is to get kind of introspective and want to just hang out with my immediate family and maybe have some really good food and beer. But this year, my birthday happens to be on the same day as the alleged end of the world, which as we all know is high bullshit, but it seems like a good excuse to engage in some crazy partying the likes of which haven’t been seen since that one time with heroin and the guy who plays Jesse on Burn Notice at a Costa Rican brothel (not really).

So what should I do for my birthday, which happens to be on the same day as the alleged end of the world? I mean, we’ll probably go have vegan wings and beer like we always do, but it’s nice to dream for a minute.

Internet Snark

On August 13, after a brief discussion with a friend, I gave up internet snark.

The very first thing I ever got involved with on the internet (before Live Journal, even) was a forum/message board. I was on this board all the time. I made friends there I still have today, some of whom I’ve even met in real life — awesome peeps. Eventually, from this forum grew a secret snark group, where a select few of us gathered to discuss and make fun of people we didn’t like. My next snark experience was on a different message board, where I posted Wesley-Willis-inspired song lyrics whenever someone annoyed me.

I guess you could say that internet snark has been a part of my internet existence almost since the dawn of time.  Since the early days, I’ve participated in various sites, both public (like Get Off My Internets) and private. It’s always been something I do on the internet.

So it’s kind of weird to give it up.

I didn’t give up internet snark because I had any moral qualms about it. I honestly believe that anything posted on the internet is fair game for comment, critique, and criticism. (For the record, I do think some people go too far — for example, wishing physical harm on someone or insulting children.) If you post something in public on the internet, people can say whatever the hell they want to say about it wherever the hell they want to say it. So I have no problem with any sort of snarky commentary that occurs on the internet.

I gave up internet snark because the truth is that when it comes down to it, I really don’t give a shit about any of the people I’ve been snarking.

I don’t care to see another picture of someone’s anatomically correct oatmeal. I don’t care whether someone guilty of the most overblown, terrible writing I’ve ever encountered said yes to another vat of fatty, disgusting food and somehow manages to get free stuff and book deals. I don’t care about someone’s 20th hipster child, c/o ModCloth. I don’t care about what you wore today when you haven’t worn anything interesting in the past few years. I don’t care about your fake-ass press releases and self promotion. I don’t care about your life that’s sponsored by a shitty shampoo company or your product reviews or what you wrote about on Babble, which I continue to maintain is the worst thing to ever happen on the internet (if you’re still reading sites that post in slideshow format, you’re part of the problem).

Clearly, there’s still some snark in me. And I know I’ve tried to quit before and failed. So I might be back at it one day, especially if there comes a time when I’m so bored I don’t care that I don’t care about any of this shit.

In the absence of snark, I’ve become sort of disengaged, I guess, with the internet in general. You’d think I’d fill my new free time with productive, constructive, interesting stuff. I spend more time on Pinterest, but overall, it turns out I’ve found that I just don’t really care about the internet, in general. For example, I suspect that part of my motivation for blogging resulted from seeing people who were doing it wrong. So I wanted to do it right. And now I’m all yeah, so what.

So, what now? I’m not sure. I guess we’ll see.

Fuck yeah I don’t give a fuck!

So I’ve been going though this thing for the past few days. It goes something like this.

  • I like people who in life are all, fuck yeah this is me and I don’t give a fuck. (Here’s an example, although I’m over shopping as blogging device.)
  • Historically, I’ve spent a lot of time on the internet reading the accounts of people who are not all, fuck yeah this is me and I don’t give a fuck, as well as people talking shit about people who are not all, fuck yeah this is me and I don’t give a fuck. The people who are not all, fuck yeah this is me and I don’t give a fuck are, in one way or another, making a grievous error in life, such as: (1) trying too hard; (2) being too commercial/shilly; (3) being too conservative; (4) being too boring; (5) being too bad at stuff; or 6) being so overly introspective about everything such that everything becomes a giant Ouroboros of stupidity and annoyingness.
  • On the one hand, I’m personally offended by injustices that occur in the world even when they don’t directly affect me. Thus, if someone I don’t know is a raging asshole and gets her way in life because she’s a raging asshole and everybody is afraid to confront her for either valid or stupid reasons, even though I’ve never met her and never will, I’m offended.
  • On the other hand, injustices that occur in the world that don’t directly affect me are not my problem and I need to be much more particular about which ones ping my give-a-fuck radar. Assholes running websites and throwing parties and eating oatmeal? No. Animal cruelty and the deficiencies of the American criminal justice system and right-wing crazies? Yes.
  • I aspire to be all, fuck yeah this is me and I don’t give a fuck and, in general, think I do a relatively decent job in this respect because I truly don’t give a fuck.
  • I need to never again waste time on people who are not all, fuck yeah this is me and I don’t give a fuck.

So, long story short (too late as always), I don’t give a fuck. Yeah!!

Like my business that has no relevance to your life or we can’t be friends.

A few weeks ago, someone I was sort-of friends with in college (I remember watching The Brave Little Toaster at her cool place above Bruegger’s a few times) added me as a friend on Facebook. I was all okay, cool, and accepted. The one thing I like about Facebook is that it allows me to, if I feel like it, keep up with what people from my past I don’t care about enough to email are doing without actually having to interact with them. (Wait, I’m being uncharitable. I also like that it allows me to easily schedule social events without having to touch a telephone.)

So okay cool, we’re Facebook friends. Only then I see that she posts updates all the time and they’re all about Irish dance and libertarian politics. I’m trying to think of two things in the world I care less about than Irish dance and libertarian politics. Trying. Still trying. Giving up now. There are no things I care less about than Irish dance and libertarian politics.

Then today she posted something, and damn I wish I’d copied and pasted it because it was so great. It was something like this:

I’m going to be using Facebook primarily for my business. If I unfriend you here it’s because you haven’t liked my business page. We can always keep in touch by email.

Her business is a small Irish dance school located 1,000 miles away from where I live.

I generally don’t unfriend people on Facebook. I don’t know why. If you annoy me, I’ll hide your updates and forget you exist, but chances are I won’t unfriend you. And I’m still smarting from the time the most boring person in the entire universe — whose updates I kept hidden because they were all “I’m at Walmart!” and “I love my husband!” and “My kids are great!” and “No fucking duh!” — had the gall to unfriend me. I haven’t unfriended anyone on Facebook since the mail carrier I didn’t even know in real life who posted something about how Barack Obama’s birth certificate was signed by Dr. Al Qaeda and why was I even friends with this person in the first place.

But damn if I didn’t unfriend this “like my irrelevant business or I’m gonna unfriend you” hooch. I mean, what? Was I supposed to wait for her to unfriend me because I didn’t like her business? Why did she friend me in the first place? It would be one thing if she friended me because she wanted to see how hot and awesome I am now, but obviously she’s just looking for bodies to like her stupid business that chances are is not relevant to their interests or locations.

The other thing I don’t get is a libertarian engaging in this sort of behavior. As a hippie liberal, I’m no libertarian scholar or anything, but even Wikipedia tells me that libertarianism is based on concepts like “voluntary associations of free individuals” and “protecting individuals from coercion and violence.” Dude, if your little dancey dance business is worthy of liking, free individuals will voluntarily like it. They should be free from coercion when doing so. Damn, girl. The political party you openly support advocates “a world in which all individuals are sovereign over their own lives and no one is forced to sacrifice his or her values for the benefit of others.” Don’t ask me to sacrifice my values, which include but are not limited to not liking your stupid business on Facebook, for the benefit of you.

Clearly, seeing her frequent libertarian propaganda posts was causing resentment to build, something I didn’t even notice until she pulled this like-my-stupid-business shit. If I weren’t already seething to some extent, I wouldn’t be writing this whole bitchy post now.

Maybe I need to be more proactive about unfriending and unfollowing people who annoy me. What’s the point of being annoyed on the internet and why do I insist on doing it?

Let’s talk about me. I’m an awesome blogger.

One thing I’ve noticed about bloggers is that they like to brag about themselves. Often, this bragging will take the form of telling you about things that would be impossible or very difficult and time-consuming to disprove.

In other news, let’s talk about me. I don’t do that enough around here. Did you know the following?

  • I was a child actor in the 70s and 80s. I’ve appeared on tv shows including but not limited to the Love Boat, the Dukes of Hazzard, Diff’rent Strokes, the Facts of Life, Alice, the Jeffersons, and Charlie’s Angels.
  • I ghostwrote a book on gardening for a prominent Chicago musician involved in the industrial music scene. I can’t tell you more because of a confidentiality agreement.
  • I think Ministry is a great band.
  • I was one of the original camgirls. I took the cam down after I got tired of being contacted by so many men.
  • I’ve started three highly successful internet companies, with websites that get more than 500,000 hits every day.
  • I used to date Dennis Rodman.
  • I built a successful food blog in part by “adapting” recipes that I actually copied word for word from other sources, but everybody loves me and nobody has ever called me out on it. (Just kidding — this one wasn’t me.)
  • My writing has appeared in national publications and my artwork has been featured in galleries across America.
  • I’ve won several “Best Blog” awards from websites that no longer exist.
  • I quit my job as a high-level executive at a large, successful company so I could live my dream and become a full-time writer. My memoirs (working title: Goodbye, Cubicle, never mind that high-level executives don’t work in cubicles) will be published in fall 2011 2012 2013.
  • When one of my “meaningful” posts gets 30 times the number of comments that one of my regular posts gets, rest assured that most of the comments, which were left by people who don’t have blogs, were not written by me.
  • I’ve worked in a consulting capacity for businesses including but not limited to Apple, Disney, and HGTV.
  • I don’t write deliberately inflammatory and inaccurate posts for Babble in a desperate attempt to get pageviews and attention.
  • My “love yourself” seminar for which I charge $100 is totally worth it and provides practical, real-life advice you can’t find elsewhere on the internet for free.
  • I’m a celebrity in Canada.
  • I’m a social media expert.
  • I’m a successful travel writer.
  • I’m a #realwriter.
  • I’m from Europe.
  • I did not buy any of my 58,828 Twitter followers.

That’s quite impressive, isn’t it? And it’s all true (except the thing about being a recipe plagiarist, of course). I dare you to prove otherwise!

(As you can see, my plan to give up snark didn’t work. I went a good two weeks, but then sort of got back into it. My current thought is: Everything in moderation, including snark. There’s some ridiculous shit on the internet, and there’s nothing wrong with checking it out and commenting on it sometimes.)